Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ready For Winter

I'm not a summer person. Oh, don't get me wrong: I like the sun. A lovely, clear, breezy day, about 72 degrees, is a thing of beauty. But summer--at least around here--is just too much of a good thing. Weeks of 80 degree plus temperatures and blistering sun keep me hiding my lily-white skin indoors and longing for the cool, damp skies of November.

So you can imagine my reaction to Las Vegas in July. Holy mother of dog, whose idea was it to build a city right smack in the middle of hell?! (The question is rhetorical.) And more importantly, why?! (Again, rhetorical.) It was 108 degrees every day we were there, with chilly night temperatures in the 90's. But, as they say, it's a DRY heat. They're not kidding. It's the sort of dry that sucks every drop of moisture out of your body the moment you step outside. The sort that causes your eyes to shrivel and your eyelids to stick. The sort that wakes you up in the middle of the night, choking because your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth and you can't swallow. To compensate for the heat, the hotels, casinos, and restaurants keep their thermostats set at a steady Ice Age. Woolly Mammoths would be comfortable in a Vegas casino in the summer. I spent the week alternately broiling and freezing, without clothing to accommodate either extreme. (Although I'm not sure what would have been appropriate. Little black dress with a parka? Bikini with snow boots? Whatever it was, I didn't have it in my suitcase.)

Despite the freakishly hot and over-air conditioned conditions, we had a marvelous time. We saw Cirque du Soleil's "O" and "Mamma Mia", and we had several outstanding meals at top-notch restaurants. We wandered the hotels and casinos and shops, and even braved the outdoors to cross the Strip. Briefly. There is a concrete bridge over Las Vegas Boulevard from the Bellagio (where we stayed) to Caesar's Palace. It is an open bridge, and although it looks quite short, appearances are deceiving. The white concrete absorbs the heat from the Death Star and concentrates it, reflecting it back up to pedestrians on the bridge. About halfway across, the temperature is roughly 10,000 degrees and you realize suddenly that you just might not be able to make it. You look behind you, trying to determine whether it might be closer to return to the starting point. You look ahead, trying to see how much further it is to shelter. Then you notice that the hair on your legs is starting to smoke, and the soles of your shoes are melting to the concrete and you just make a run for it. I'm pretty sure I saw bleached skulls around the midpoint of the bridge. He who hesitates is lost.

So it's probably not surprising that I was overcome by the urge to cast on a winter sweater as soon as I arrived home. (I had nothing on the needles except a little lace scarf. I really need to post some FO shots soon.)

I have some Noro Transitions that I picked up during a Ram Wools sale a few months ago. I bought it to make a winter jacket, and I've been just itching to try it (no pun intended--truly). So I dug it out of the stash.

This is some gorgeous yarn. I have a love-hate relationship with Noro yarns generally. I love the colors, hate the textures. Some Noro yarns, particularly those with angora, like Kochoran, are next-to-the skin soft. But, let's face it: no matter how beautiful the colors, you could scrub your oven with Kureyon. And the fiber content isn't always a reliable indicator of the texture. One would think that a yarn called "Silk Garden" would pretty much have to be soft, right? Not so much.

But Transitions is a real treat. It has a reasonable amount of both silk and angora, which I was counting on to soften the wool. (I order almost all my yarn online, since the only yarn store near me considers Cascade 220 to be an "exotic" yarn.) And I'm not disappointed. In the skein, it feels a lot like Kochoran--nubby and not terribly soft, with a sort of dry hand. But, also like Kochoran, it softens as it's worked and the little angora fibers come to the surface. I am anticipating that it will also respond well to washing. The texture of Kochoran changes dramatically when it's washed, from a stiff, slightly rough fabric to one that is drapey and buttery soft. Transitions is bulkier than Kochoran, and unique in that both the colors and the fibers change as you progress along the yarn. But I'm hoping it will also soften up more with washing.

And who can argue with these gorgeous colors?

This will be a jacket modeled on this design, but significantly modified to allow for greater length. I've been struggling a bit with just how to lengthen this design, since the fronts are knitted on the diagonal, while the back is done straight, and it's all worked in one piece. I can't just continue working until it's the right length, or I'll end up with fronts that are much too wide. I think I have it worked out, but there is going to be some trial and error with this one. So far, though, I'm really having fun with it. I've frogged the whole thing once already, but at a gauge of 3 stitches to the inch, frogging isn't all that bothersome. And I am endlessly entertained by the color and texture transitions.

21 comments:

stitchywitch said...

I love it! I have the same relationship with Noro. I've never made a whole noro sweater though, yours looks lovely so far!

melissaknits said...

Love that jacket. Also love transitions, but I have a Noro problem.

Also cannot abide hot places in summer. The hot is bad enough. but the cold??? Obviously trying to kill me with alternating hot and chill.

addictedtoknitting said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I really enjoyed yours. Your write extremely well and you are Hilarious! thanks for the smile so early in the morning!
I agree with you on the Noro. After hearing so many raves about it I was disappointed in it. Can't wait to see your sweater!

Romi said...

Yeah, know what you mean. Yuck. You're supposed to stay inside gambling 24/7 in Vegas. :g:

Tracy said...

OK hold on a sec.....

Phew! That was a good laugh. Point taken, I won't go to Vegas in July.

Love, Love, Love that sweater!!! I can't wait to hear how you propose to lengthen it.

Kim said...

Kochoran will make a gorgeous Petra. Having made a sweater with Kureyon and a few scarves out of Silk Garden, the yarn does soften considerably. Glad you survived the blistering heat of Vegas. It drive me nuts when it's boiling hot outside and inside my office (or the train), the AC is cranking so high I could use a wool sweater and hand knit socks.

Suzanne said...

Your post made me laugh!! Sounds like it was hot, hot, hot!! Now you know how I feel, even going down to Seattle or Portland. If it gets above 65 degrees, I'm dying!

The Noro is beautiful!

Diane2knit said...

With 3-4 heat waves already this summer, I decided yesterday that I was ready for sweater weather - and I'm in PA!

How are we going to make it through?

Good Yarns said...

I also like the matsuri cotton noro. Have you checked that one out?
Especially in the warm (hot) weather, it is nice to knti with and to wear!

Hope your burned feel heal soon. :-)

Fibra Artysta said...

Oh man, I started sweating just reading the description of the bridge. It sounds like one of those oven stones you cook pizza on...I think if I ever go to Vegas I'm goin' in January. And I'll bring a cooler of snow from Michigan to carry around with me...ick...

Love the colors of that yarn! I'm actually getting ready to start my first sweater. Said a hail mary, ordered the yarn and will cast on when it arrives this week!

Olga said...

Did you have those candy traps in your room that cost you millons if you pick it up???

sophanne said...

I'll do a little geometry ritual to The Great And Powerful Knitter for you. And yet, somehow I'm fiendishly wondering what a math mistake would mean. Will you still be my friend?

sophanne said...

I'll do a little geometry ritual to The Great And Powerful Knitter for you. And yet, somehow I'm fiendishly wondering what a math mistake would mean. Will you still be my friend?

sophanne said...

I'll do a little geometry ritual to The Great And Powerful Knitter for you. And yet, somehow I'm fiendishly wondering what a math mistake would mean. Will you still be my friend?

vanfox23 said...

what would possess you to travel to hell in the middle of summer? LOL!! I have been to Vegas about the same time and it is truly hell on earth. Those colors are very beautiful together...can't wait to see the finished product!

TheBlackSheep said...

I must buy some Noro at some point, just so I can know what everyone else is talking about.

LV is made for people who want to move to hell. I don't think you would have gotten me to go outside. Apparently you can live inside one of those hotels all of your life without ever going outside. I'd have to do that there.

Viktoria said...

I'm with you... summer is just too hot sometimes, even if it is nice with a little sunshine. I'm longing for a little cooler weather..

The yarn looks beautiful!

Karen said...

Haha...I went to Vegas once...I can't remember what month it was, but the heat is just like you described. I had a really good time too even though I thought I wouldn't because I don't really enjoy gambling. I didn't think there would be other things to do.

Steph B said...

Vegas, huh? Can't say I've ever had any real desire to go there. If I did, my priorities would be yarn shops and bead shops, and I can find those in much more comfortable areas! Heck, I can find those online, without leaving the comfort of my cushy chair and (lightly) air-conditioned home. Guess where I'm going for vacation this year?

Yep. Nowhere. Ah, the thrilling life I lead.

The Noro is lovely, I can't wait to see it all done up. You do wonderful work!

SusanJane said...

Beautiful cardi pattern, but wow, you better have row counters and burn an offering to the math goddess. The variegated nature of the yarn will make it gorgeous. I'd love to find a Noro yarn to love, but so far have been weirded out by the ones I've tried. I wonder what the design philosophy is for a company that doesn't mind having wood chips and straw in their yarn.......
I live in North Carolina, where the summers are both 90-to-100 hot and stick-to-yourself humid; I crawl from one AC'd place to another and wait for fall to rescue my sanity. The other three seasons are terrific, though.

quiltyknitwit said...

You're right about Noro. I haven't made any sweaters from it, just hats, scarves, and clapotis. Soak is a wonderful product that softens and "blooms" the finished garment.
Las Vegas in summer ... yuck.